If there was ever a time to grab two of your friends and deck yourself out in all-leather catsuits, this is it. SPYSCAPE, an interactive spy museum, has just debuted in New York, and it's actually really fun. Geek-friendly, for sure. But fun.
This past opening weekend my besties and I traded in our typical boozy brunch Sunday for the chance to channel Charlie's Angels in a more legit way than we could on Halloween. We entered the massive space in Midtown and were immediately outfitted in some high-tech wristbands. Well, regular-ish wristbands with a chip thingy inside, kind of like the ones you get at music festivals these days. Anyway, these were vital to the entire experience.
After waiting in line with the rest of our time slot group (side note: the posse of teens ahead of us were basically the cast of The Big Bang Theory 2.0, and, adorably, they were all wearing black outfits with black ski caps - so on theme) we were led into the world's biggest elevator. No, really, it's actually the world's biggest elevator. An immersive video got us all amped, then we were ready to get crackin'.
The multimedia museum provides amazing info on some of history's most famous (and infamous) secret agents, but it also offers an individualized journey that tests your own espionage skills. That's where the "identity bands" come in. Throughout the galleries, question stations and challenges call for your brain power. You simply scan your wristband and it collects your data, based on how you complete each task. At the end of your visit you're digitally debriefed, and your spy profile determines the role you'd best be suited for - everything from Special Ops Officer to Hacker. (FYI, I'm a Cryptologist, likely due to years of overanalyzing text messages from stupid boys.)
The two big draws (that garner big lines) are the Deception Challenge (individual booths that monitor your pulse and analyze your voice to test your lying skills) and the Special Ops Challenge (finally, the opportunity to navigate through lasers!). Both worth the wait, obviously.
While it may sound a little gimmicky, I'm happy to report that it really wasn't. In fact, the museum worked with actual intelligence agents to get everything right, so even your designated spy role is the real deal.
Post code-cracking and exploring, we cozied up in the sleek cafe area, and browsed SPYSCAPE's not-so-typical gift shop. Sure, there are t-shirts, but they're sold alongside actual spy gear - gadgets, smart tech, and products to protect your personal communications (take that, FBI).
Adult tickets start at $39, and it's definitely a unique way to spend the day. It's kid friendly, too, if you're into that sort of thing (having kids). 007, eat your heart out.
SPYSCAPE, 928 8th Ave
[Photos courtesy SPYSCAPE]